Segregation and Culion Leper Colony
Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s Disease, is a long-term infection by the bacteria called “Mycobacterium leprae or Mycobacterium lepromatosis.” This Infection often causes damage of the nerves, respiratory tract, skin, and eyes – which in effect a person loses the ability to feel pain. A person afflicted often feels weakened and complains poor eyesight.
By the time of American occupation, there had been 1,500 annual cases of leprosy in the country. To arrest this health crisis with no effective treatment yet established, the colonial government’s immediate solution is isolation.
After a long and careful search for the most suitable leprosarium to initiate the segregation via the Philippine Commission Act 1711, more than 370 patients arrived on the island of Culion, in Palawan to start living in an institutionalized remedial segregation amidst the resistance of the locals and the patients themselves. Knowing the Americans’ inherent proclivity to public relations, they would send out agents to socialize the image of Culion and its inhabitants. After 30 years, with the advancement of treatments, Culion saw the decline of its population.
From Apartness to Belongingness
In 2018, the Culion Museum and Archives was officially nominated by the Philippines in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register – if considered, it will be the fifth internationally recognized documentary heritage of the Philippines, which could increase Culion town’s achievability to become a world heritage site.
Culion – The Movie
Culion, which is produced by iOptions Ventures and Team MSB under the very controversial and multifaceted Shandii Bacolod, is world premiering its Official Teaser Trailer today, September 30. In an effort to reach out its full intentions to participate to the characteristically mass-oriented Metro Manila Film Festival in December, Culion held a Grand Media Launch at the illustrious Holiday Inn Galleria at the Ortigas Business District. The launch was attended by its main actors Iza Calzado Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Meryll Soriano, Suzette Ranillo, Joem Bascon, Nico Fowler, VJ Mendoza, and Mike Liwag, among others. Ms Gillie Sing is the Executive Producer.
Culion, following the timeline of the leprosarium’s decline between the mid-1940s and before the Japanese Occupation, was translated to the screen from a script by award-winning writer and mentor Ricardo F Lee. This grandiose period drama is the comeback project of filmmaker/professor Alvin Yapan. Culion is being distributed by Viva Entertainment.
Bacolod relates, “I honestly believe that the purpose of this film is to make everyone remember a forgotten story. More than a tragedy, Culion is a story of human spirit, resilience and triumph.”
Here’s the synopsis:
This is as much the story of three women as it is the story of Culion. In the 1940s, Anna, Doris and Ditas are three leper patients who live in Culion at a time when the disease is practically a life sentence. No cure has yet been found, and no one is allowed to leave. You live and die there. It is why the place is called the Land of the Living Dead.
Anna never loses hope that soon a cure will be found, even when her baby is taken away from her. Doris believes in the myth that a beautiful diwata will soon heal the place. Ditas keeps attempting to kill herself, helpless against the onslaught of memories from the outside world. Together the three friends try to negotiate a life of stigma that seesaws between hope and despair, redefining their roles as women, mother, friend, and human being. In the end they prove that neither disease nor death can erase their humanity and their capacity to endure.
Here’s the trailer: